Essential Video Conferencing Tips while Streaming Events


by Jimmy Day

April 2, 2020

Since there's an increasing number of  public events  produced with online video conferencing recently, this post will address key topics when hosting an event that streams from programs like Zoom or Skype.  Here is an example of such an event. There is no technical guidance in this post for specific software. These suggestions can also apply to more casual or private meeting users, as well as those who just want to up the quality of their meetings. 


The key to preparing for a live video conference event is to start testing your system at least one week early to work out any bugs with time to respond to them if more equipment is needed. The main things to look out for when preparing and streaming an event are:

  1. Connection strength + consistency
  2. Quality of audio
  3. Quality of video
  4. Captioning
  5. A couple technical notes
  6. Action plan for if (when) things go wrong during a stream

Connection strength + consistency 

There is nothing more critical than the connection speed between your device and the network.  Even if your Wi-Fi network seems reasonably fast at first, the connection can become  inconsistent. For this reason, it is strongly encouraged to use an ethernet connection whenever possible. If the computer doesn't have an ethernet connection, here are a few links for adapters: USB-C (mac), USB-3 (PC). If ethernet isn't available, test your connection speed to understand how well it performs in a specific location before entering into the event. Also, be sure to quit windows that are not in use, including things like Dropbox syncing files, emails sending audible notices, etc. Not only can sounds interfere with the conference, but this can reduce connection speed.  

According to Zoom and Skype, they each require minimum upload/download speeds of 1.2 Mbps. Since this speed is so variable, it's better to find a network that supports a minimum of 3 Mbps upload/download. Even this can be problematic, so ethernet is the only way to almost guarantee a quality video stream. If you notice the connection dropping out, stop your video streaming immediately and just use the audio. 

Rebooting your computer and updating your conferencing software before going live is also a way to avoid bad behavior from your system. System or software updates should always be installed at least 24 hours before any event goes live, since the changes it may cause to the interface or integration with hardware may affect performance and/or familiarity with the look of controls. 

Quality of audio

Choose a location far away from even low level ambient sounds like refrigerators, traffic, or air conditioners. Test the mic out on your computer and record the sound to play back and assess. If it doesn't sound clear enough, order one of these models: adequate quality (Fifine K669B), improved quality (Yeti USB mic). If a wireless mic is needed, this is the cheapest version that works consistently with robust sound (Sennheiser XSW-D), but you will need level control since it runs a little hot .  Because of shipping, try testing this part out at least a week in advance of any event. As with any video conferencing meeting, participants that are not speaking should mute their computer. 

Quality of video

Lighting for video conferencing should be mostly flat across the speaker and background.  There can be slightly more light on the speaker than the background, but it doesn't need to be artistic. Most importantly, do not keep open windows or bright sources in the background, because the  camera will underexpose you dramatically. The best method is sitting to the side of, or behind a large window so the ambient (not direct) light can evenly expose both of your eyes and your background (see example below).  It is ideal to use indirect window light since it is more robust than most artificial light and will nearly eliminate noise in the video. If no window is available, aim for larger diffused light sources that fill the room as much as possible. If the camera on your computer isn't satisfactory, here is a well reviewed model that connects via USB: Logitech C920/22 or Logitech BRIO. Here is a green screen option (Westcott 130) if a cleaner key frame is desired for backgrounds. Here is an option for a soft light (Ledge LG-E2686) for a wide spread of light on faces and backgrounds, or a more directional light (Fiilex P360) for targeted lighting on faces or objects.  This is the most expensive piece of gear in this post since finding an affordable, well made light that doesn't shift color over time is no easy task. Lights like this (Kino) are more common in professional lighting schemes.


Live captioning is strongly recommended for any live presentations, and mandatory for public facing videos posted after an event. Live captions cost around $125 per hour, but much less once sent out for transcripts/captions afterwords.  A commonly used post-event transcribing/captioning service is Rev, and ACS  for live captions. 

A couple technical notes

Although this post is not meant to be a technical guide to any particular software, there are some themes with technical hiccups that are worth mentioning. When recording your event through a video chat, it must be recorded using the greatest resolution possible. In Zoom this is under: < preferences < recording < select box "Optimize for 3rd party video editor."

Whether using Keynote or Power Point, it's important to know what portion of the screen you will be sharing and what you'll have available on your own computer screen so you can keep track of other windows, if needed. By default, most presentation programs take over your entire screen, making it impossible to look at other windows you may need. The important thing is to test, test, test, hours, if not days before.

Action plan for if (when) things go wrong during a stream

Like most of consumer technology, it is not a question of if but when something goes awry. With video conferencing, this usually means encountering a poor internet connection, distracting noise from inside a room that captures the microphone's attention, or a power point presentation that does not appear for the audience when the user thinks it's working perfectly. For these reasons (and many more), it can become essential to work out a plan of action if something isn't going right.  

Just before an event starts, talk with the participants about  a channel of communication by text, email, chat, or just agreeing if anything goes wrong, a designated person will interrupt the event if something becomes too distracting. Alternative ways of communicating allow the speaker to be uninterrupted if the problem is minor. Also, be careful not to live chat the entire group at once if possible during an event, since these comments can sometimes show up on a live feed that's going out to a broader audience like YouTube, Facebook, or other live streaming platforms.

It is also recommended to set up a video conference with all the event participants a couple days before the event starts, so you can check if the connection, audio, and video are acceptable on their end. 

Higher end recommendations

Finally, here is a list of equipment if you wish to take the streaming kit up a notch with more robust/functional audio, facial focus tracking + a more cinematic camera & recording features.  The overall look will render better,  more controllable colorful, exposure,  contrast, sound cleaner, and look professional, assuming lighting is set up reasonably well as described above. 

- Camera:  Sony HXR-MC88  (recommend standard accessories, SD cards, batteries, and bag. $1,300.00

(pick one of these two adapters)

- HDMI adapter from camera to computer (mac) IOGear HDMI to USB-C $91.00

- HDMI adapter from camera to computer (pc)  Elgato Cam Link 4k $120.00

- Lavalier Microphone:  Countryman B3 Mic - XLR type, not 3.5mm plug (This mic is powered trhough the camera, no batteries required) - $180.00

- Tripod:  Benroe tripod with S2P head $200.00

- Cables: 25 ft XLR & 10ft + HDMI cable  - $50.00

Place camera over your laptop lens, or ideally from a separate monitor set back so it appears you are looking directly at the other speaker on the talk

Related Content